What does a port do?


The French Riviera Chamber of Commerce manages five ports : Cannes, Golfe-Juan, Anibes - Vauban, Nice and Villefranche Darse.

State, Departmental Council (Conseil Général), Municipality, Chamber of Commerce … who is owner, and who is operator?



Prior to 1983, all sea ports were State responsibilities. With the 1983 decentralisation laws, communes (municipalities) became responsible for the creation, operation and development of boating ports (marinas), while départements (equivalent of county councils) became responsible for numerous commercial and fishing ports.

The State retained the direct responsibility for ports of national interest, and the supervision of autonomous ports. The decentralisation laws of 2004 and of 2008, and the "Loi NOTRe" of 2016 brought further important modifications to the organisation of French sea ports.



The most important commercial ports, and those serving overseas departments, are under the responsibility of the State.  In mainland France, they have the status of ‘Major Sea Port’, which replaced that of ‘Autonomous Port’ in October 2008.


All the other commercial or fishing ports come under the responsibility of local collectivities: regions, departments or mixed syndicates. Their management is usually conceded to the Chambers of Commerce, while the boating ports (marinas) remain under municipal authority.



Each port has an owner (State, departmental council, city, town or collectivity) and an operator. The owner can either operate the port directly, or delegate its operation, in the form of a concession. The ‘concessionaire’ operates the port on behalf of the owner, under a variety of possible structures (public, semi-public, or private). In the case of new ports, the contract includes the construction, maintenance and operation of the port.

Union of French Ports (UPF)

Logo Ports de France

Union of French Ports (UPF)

The UPF is the professional federation of French ports, a group of about 50 public bodies and port operators. This association represents all the commercial ports and the majority of the fishing ports in metropolitan France and its overseas departments. 


  • Major sea ports
  • Autonomous sea and river ports
  • Chambers of commerce managing ports
  • Other bodies managing fishing ports or fish markets

Although in principle the UPF represents sea ports, its members also include the autonomous river ports of Paris and Strasbourg.

8 Place du Général Catroux
75017 Paris
Tel : +33 (0)1 42 27 52 62


Global network of port cities

AIVP - Association Internationale Ville et Ports
5 Quai de la Saône
76600 Le Havre
Tel: +33 (0)2 35 42 78 84   No. depuis l’étranger corrigé
Email: aivp@aivp.org

Website: http://www.aivp.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/aivp.net